Mr. Bankman-Fried’s business and political empire was always a family affair. The FTX founder was a prolific political donor, and he was part of a network of contributors who gave money to groups recommended by Mind the Gap, people familiar with the organization said. He also helped bankroll a nonprofit organization called Guarding Against Pandemics that was run by his 27-year-old brother, Gabe Bankman-Fried.
Mr. Bankman was deeply involved in FTX. In its early days, he helped the company recruit its first lawyers. Last year, he joined FTX staff in meetings on Capitol Hill and advised his son as Mr. Bankman-Fried prepared to testify to the House Financial Services Committee, a person familiar with the matter said. FTX employees occasionally consulted him on tax-related matters, the person said.
“From the start whenever I was useful, I’d lend a hand,” Mr. Bankman said on an FTX podcast in August.
Mr. Bankman visited the FTX offices in the Bahamas as often as once a month, a person who saw him there said. Among the much-younger staff, he cultivated an avuncular persona, regaling employees with stories from his son’s youth, the person said. He and Ms. Fried stayed in a $16.4 million house in Old Fort Bay, a gated community in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas; the couple’s names appear on real estate documents, according to Reuters, though Mr. Bankman-Fried has said the house was “intended to be the company’s property.”
Ms. Heller, the couple’s spokeswoman, said Mr. Bankman and Ms. Fried “never intended to and never believed they had any beneficial or economic ownership in the house.”
As an employee, Mr. Bankman focused on FTX’s charitable operations. He put together the Miami event, selecting the teams of high school students who competed for $1 million in FTX grants.
Mr. Bankman also leveraged family connections to expand FTX’s reach. His sister, Barbara Miller, works in Florida as a political consultant and introduced him to Newton Sanon, the chief executive of OIC of South Florida, a nonprofit organization that helps people with work force development training to promote economic mobility. (Ms. Miller did not respond to a request for comment.)